"Exquisite", "exquisite" is the word to describe Jardins de Bagatelle. I was curious to test yet another one of the Guerlains in an eau de toilette version as they are in general much decried amongst perfumistas. Seeing this one in a package sent from France I decided to give it a go.
Jardins de Bagatelle was created in 1983 by Jean-Paul Guerlain and is described as a floral woodsy fragrance, a particularly apt description for the eau de toilette version which is indeed on the woody side. According to Jan Moran in Fabulous Fragrances II top notes are violet, bergamot, aldehydes, citron. Heart notes are orange blossom, tuberose, gardenia, magnolia, narcissus, orchid, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and muguet. Base notes are musk, cedarwood, vetiver, and patchouli; the perfume also most certainly contains orris....
Jardins de Bagatelle in eau de toilette betrays none of the harshness that unfortunately plagues the new edt version of Mitsouko. It offers what we are used to finding in a Guerlain that is the sensation of feeling a rich and sensual material with the palm of our hand substituting however our nose to do so. The first impression besides that of delicacy are ones of roundness and opulence, even in the lighter eau de toilette version.
The perfume unfolds at first by suggesting a spicy musky rose resting on a sensual animalic background of something even possibly racier than musk, civet, or its impression. The rose then turns more liquorishy as it becomes suffused with a sweet and juicy jasmine. In the eau de toilette version, the floralcy in general is more clearly counterbalanced by the woodsy notes of violet, iris, vetiver, cedarwood and patchouli. As the tuberose appears more prominently it is also made less exuberant thanks to the relative dryness of the woods. The fragrance then develops a characteristic and lasting impression of smelling like the contents of a bottle of sparkling Champagne in which a bouquet of narcotic and indolic flowers would have been put to macerate for the longest of time. It reminds me of what someone said once, that French perfumes are so characteristically successful and part of daily life because they are made to accompany food and blend harmoniously with the aromas of a meal. The soft powdery and dream-like drydown is scented with iris as well as being lightly sweetened by what seems to be dominant accents of Tonka, rather than vanilla.
Overall, the impression is one of great elegance. The perfume easily evokes a classically beautiful caryatid sculpture in a park, that of the Château de Bagatelle, a theme after which the flacon was designed with its motif of draped shoulders. If the edp version might suggest more centrally a garden in which luscious white flowers grow ready to enrapture the passers-by, the edt version makes you think more of the presence of nearby woods while remaining as suggestive of divine lushness and of its counterpart, human intoxication.
Photo is from Okadi